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The Skeleton Coast – ‘The Land God Made in Anger’

The Skeleton Coast was given the name ‘The land God made in anger’ by the Bushmen who lived in the area due to its inhospitable environment. Portuguese sailors once referred to it as ‘The Gates of Hell’. A dense fog often covers the ocean and there is a constant heavy current which no doubt has added to the number of shipwrecks this coast has experienced. Before engine-powered boats it was impossible to launch from the shore and the only option was to plow through a marsh several kilometres long. Many stranded sailors lost their lives while walking across this isolated land in search of food and water. The area is mostly stark with rocky outcrops protruding from the soft sands. High sand dunes from years of erosion dominate the barren Skeleton Coast.


Whale and sea bones used to litter the shore when the whaling industry was still rife, probably another reason for its name. Although it is said that there were many human skeletons as well. The desolated shipwrecks give an eerie feeling to the coast, of which there are more than a thousand. The landscape is one of dunes, canyons and mountain ranges, and although it may seem as though the Skeleton Coast has been neglected by Mother Nature, there is something beautiful in its barrenness.

Photograph compliments of wikimedia

About Bronwyn Paxton

Article by: Bronwyn Paxton
on April 26, 2012
Filed under  Namibia 
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